Closing Remarks by H.E.Ms. Besiana Kadare, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Albania to the UN, at the United Nations LGBTI Core Group Special Event on IDAHOTB Day

Distinguished panelists, dear participants,

I’m honored to have the opportunity today to deliver a few closing remarks on behalf of the UN LGBTI Core Group. I would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to all those who participated in organizing this event. I would like to thank the moderator, the panelists and the civil society, of course, for their contributions.

Also, special thanks to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for his inspiring intervention. He is such an extraordinary, courageous advocate for human rights and fundamental freedoms, all over the world.

It’s great that we have come together today to continue our dialogue and collaboration in order to promote acceptance and bring an end to the discrimination against LGBTI people. 

But although we have reached significant milestones over the past few years, we need to acknowledge that people, throughout the world, continue to massively suffer hatred, discrimination and outright violence, simply based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Albania, as the other members of the Core Group, attaches the utmost importance to the universal nature of human rights. Indeed, it is worth repeating that everyone is entitled to enjoy all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and I quote: “without distinction of any kind”.

It is the responsibility of us, Member States, to protect vulnerable and often marginalized communities in our societies. Although sexual orientation is a sensitive issue for many countries, we strongly believe that no one should be subjected to violence or discrimination just because of who they are or who they love.

LGBTI rights are not a special category of rights. LGBTI rights are human rights at the United Nations. And this is where the Core Group has a vital role to play. Together, we need to weave LGBTI rights into our own legislation, but also into the work we do, here at the UN, to advance human rights and human dignity.  

We should commit not only to defend these rights within our own nations, but also to project them outside, to the rest of the world. Let’s not forget that in more than 70 countries, same-sex activity or relationships are criminalized.

In this context, it is crucial to build partnerships and cooperation with our allies. We, and by “we” I mean both our governments and civil society groups, have to help our partners in the places where LGBTI people are still targeted by discrimination and violence.

The stories shared by the panelists today demonstrate how essential it is to work across a broad spectrum of public life in order to address the significant barriers that LGBTI people face, notably in sports and culture.

 

It’s encouraging to hear how business leaders have joined forces with civil society to raise voices nationally, as well as through UN Mechanisms such as the UN LGBTI Business Standards of Conduct.

In light of the inspiring experiences we heard today, governments, social partners, NGOs and other actors should undertake new, creative initiatives, including community activism, aimed at promoting acceptance and addressing the harassment and discrimination that LGBTIs face in the workplace.

Ensuring the rights of the LGTBI community requires prolonged, inclusive and determined campaigns that result in cultural shift.  In this context, we fully support the champions of these movements, such as those that shared with us today their stories.

Finally, I would like to say a few words about my country Albania, and our region, the Western Balkans. I am proud to report that Albania has world class legislation protecting the rights of LGBTI and a small but growing movement of activists. Just this past Saturday there was a gay pride bicycle parade in Tirana, our capital. The parade gathered representatives from gay pride movements from Serbia and Kosovo, thus showing how campaigning for LGBTI rights can also build solidarity and bridges across nations. 

But we also know that the prejudice still exists and changing a law it’s an important step but is not enough. Hate speech erupts periodically and must be protested assertively, whenever it occurs. Education, starting at family level, has a key role to play in breaking the cycle of fear, ignorance and violence. Albania tries hard to be a progressive voice, and will continue to do so, despite the challenges we face since the societies in our region remain traditional and conservative. 

Dear participants,

I would like to conclude by emphasizing, once again, that treating people differently and discriminating against them just because of who they are, is always wrong. It’s as simple as that. No need to dwell on complicated, legal dissertations about the definition of sexual orientation and gender identity, to understand that it is an issue of human dignity. It’s a basic, straightforward principle that we should all actively advocate for, within our societies and with our colleagues, wherever they are from.

And we are committed to continue the struggle so that the LGBTI rights are seen, throughout the world, as what they are: human rights

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